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Manual 

224 Benefit Street 
Providence, Rl 02903 
United States 
Manual@risd.edu 
risdmuseum.org 

Issue — 9 / Fall 2017 / Out of Line 
RISD Museum director: John W. Smith 
Manual Editor-in-chief: Sarah Ganz Blythe 
Editor: Amy Pickworth 
Art director: Derek Schusterbauer 
Graphic designer: Tatiana Gomez Gaggero 
Photographer: Erik Gould 
(unless otherwise noted) 

Printer: GHP 


Manual: a journal about art and its making 
(ISSN 2329-9193) is produced twice yearly 
by the RISD Museum. Contents © 2017 Museum 
of Art, Rhode Island School of Design 

Manual is available at RISD WORKS ( risdworks.com ) 
and as a benefit of RISD Museum membership. 
Learn more at risdmuseum.edu . Back issues can 
be viewed online at risdmuseum.org/publications . 
Subscribe to Manual or purchase back issues 
at risdmuseum.org/subscribe . Funds generated 
through the sales of Manual support educational 
programs at the RISD Museum. 


1 


76 


Special thanks to Emily Banas, Denise Bastien, 

Gina Borromeo, Laurie Brewer, Linda Catano, Julie 
D'Amico, Christin Fitzgerald, Sionan Guenther, 
Dominic Molon, Ingrid Neuman, Maureen C. O’Brien, 
Kajette Solomon, Amee Spondike, Glenn Stinson, 
Jess Urick, and Elizabeth A. Williams, as well as to 
Kathie Florsheim. 

This issue of Manual is supported in part by a 
grant from the Rhode Island State Council on 
the Arts, through an appropriation by the Rhode 
Island General Assembly and a grant from the 
National Endowment for the Arts. Additional 
generous support is provided by the RISD Museum 
Associates and Sotheby’s. 

Out of Line complements Lines of Thought: 
Drawing from Michelangelo to Now, presented 
in collaboration with the British Museum. Lead 
sponsorship for the exhibition is provided by a 
grant from the Robert Lehman Foundation and 
an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts 
and the Humanities. Programming support 
is provided by the Museum Associates, National 
Grid, Site Specific, and Radical Media with 
additional support from Sotheby’s and MOO. Lines 
of Thought was developed and toured the UK with 
the support of the Bridget Riley Art Foundation. 


(cover) 

Raul Gonzalez III 
American, b. 1976 

Watchalo, Papa, Watchalo (detail), 2016 
Mixed media on paper 
35.6 x 27.9 cm. (14 * 11 in.) 

Helen M. Danforth Acquisition Fund 2017.12 
© Raul Gonzalez III 



Issue 














Manual Fall 2017 


Out of Line 



Wifredo Lam 
Cuban, 1902-1982 
Untitled, 1961 

Charcoal, pastel, and gouache on paper 
Image: 66.1 * 48 cm. (26 * 18% in.) 

Gift of Arthur and Sybil Kern 2005.49.2 
© 2017 Artist Rights Society CARS), 
New York / ADAGP, Paris 









Contributors 


Fida Adely is an associate professor 
at the Center for Contemporary Arab 
Studies at Georgetown University and 
the Clovis and Hala Salaam Maksoud 
Chair in Arab Studies. Her publications 
include Gendered Paradoxes: Educating 
Jordanian Women in Nation, Faith & 
Progress (University of Chicago Press, 
2012) and "God Made Beautiful Things” 
C American Ethnologist, 2012). 

Reginald Dwayne Betts is the author of 
two collections of poetry and a memoir. 
Bastards of the Reagan Era, his latest 
collection of poems, was a winner of 
the Pen New England Award. He is a 
graduate of the Yale Law School. 

Stefano Bloch is a cultural geographer 
and assistant professor in the School 
of Geography + Development at the 
University of Arizona. He was a bomber 
in L.A. for two decades. 

Mimi Cabell trained in photography 
and the language arts; in her practice 
she interrogates "the image" and the 
different ways it is created through 
visual and textual grammar. She lives in 
Providence, where she is an assistant 
professor of design at the Rhode Island 
School of Design. 

Namita Vijay Dharia is a sociocultural 
anthropologist and an architect 
specializing in urban South Asia. Dharia 
is interested in bridging design and 
social-science methodologies and 
theories, and explores anthropology, 
architecture, and urban planning to 
study social justice, human-object 
relations, ecologies, and urban political 
economy. 


Douglas W. Doe is the associate 
archivist for the RISD Archives. His 
responsibilities include processing the 
RISD Museum’s archival records and 
providing reference services to museum 
staff. He holds a BA in history from 
Colgate University and an MA in history / 
archival methods from UMass-Boston. 


Douglas Kearney’s most recent 
collection, Buck Studies (Fence Books, 
2016), is a CLMP Firecracker awardee 
and California Book Award silver 
medalist. Publisher's Weekly called 
Kearney’s Mess and Mess and (Noemi 
Press, 2015) "an extraordinary book." 
He teaches at CalArts. 


Jared A. Goldstein helped represent 
the Kuwaiti detainees held by the United 
States at Guantanamo Bay Cuba. He 
teaches constitutional law at Roger 
Williams University School of Law in 
Bristol, Rhode Island. 

Lucinda Hitchcock is the head of 
RISD’s Department of Graphic Design, 
where she teaches graduate and 
undergraduate studios and focuses 
her interests around the shape of 
language. Her design practice, L_H 
Design, specializes in collateral materials 
for museums and galleries, including 
books, catalogues, wall text, posters, and 
exhibition graphics. 


Amber Lopez is the RISD Museum’s 
Nancy Prophet Fellow, working in the 
Education and Contemporary Art 
departments. Her research interests 
include antiracist museum practice and 
the significance of art by and reflective 
of people of the African diaspora. Her 
most recent project was curating the 
video installation Ariel Jackson: The 
Origin of the Blues. 

Jeffrey Moser is an assistant professor 
of the history of art and architecture at 
Brown University. He specializes in the 
artistic and intellectual history of China 
during the Song-Yuan era (tenth to 
fourteenth centuries CE). 


3 


76 


Jan Howard, the RISD Museum’s chief 
curator, is the Houghton P. Metcalf 
Jr. Curator of Prints, Drawings, and 
Photographs. Her research focuses 
on modern and contemporary art, 
including most recently the exhibition 
and publication Drawing Ambience: 
Alvin Boyarsky and the Architectural 
Association, co-curated with Igor 
Marjanovic. 

Kate Irvin is the RISD Museum’s 
head curator of costume and textiles. 
Her most recent exhibition is All of 
Everything: Todd Oldham Fashion 
(2016), and her upcoming shows include 
Repair: Thrift to Resistance. With Laurie 
Brewer, Irvin authored Artist/Rebel/ 
Dandy: Men of Fashion (Yale University 
Press, 2013). 


Sheida Soleimani is an Iranian American 
artist currently residing in Providence, 
Rhode Island. The daughter of political 
refugees who were persecuted by 
the Iranian government in the early 
1980s, Soleimani inserts her own 
critical perspectives on historical and 
contemporary sociopolitical occurrences 
in Iran. 

Craig Taylor is an artist and associate 
professor of painting at RISD. His work 
has been exhibited in numerous solo 
shows nationally and internationally 
including at Sue Scott Gallery in New 
York, and Tests-Showroom in Berlin, 
Germany. He lives and works in Brooklyn. 


CD 


Issue 


Manual Fall 2017 


Out of Line 


two-sided 

- Artist on Art 

30 

- Double Takes 

poster 

Out of Line 


Your House is Mine 


Craig Taylor 


(All City) 




Namita Vijay Dharia & Stefano Bloch 

5 

- Introduction 

Out of Line: Straight 
Lines and Right Angles 


Carey Young’s 

Declared Void 

Jared A. Goldstein & Mimi Cabell 

8 

Reginald Dwayne Betts 

- From the Files 

Bill of Sale for Sam 


Blue Bra Lady as 

Political Icon 

Fida Adely & Lucinda Hitchcock 


Amber Lopez 


The Humble and Divine: 


Public Outrage 
and Private Parts 


Iranian Dervish Cap 

Kate Irvin & Sheida Soleimani 


Douglas W. Doe 

poster 

- Artist on Art 

16 

- Object Lesson 

Mist as Method: 


“...Alright!...Alright! Huh? 

Douglas Kearney 


Cloudy Mountains 

Jeffrey Moser 

45 

- Portfolio 

Loose Links & 




Clear Couplings 



58 

- Object Lesson 




Shahzia Sikander: 
Drawing and Disruption 




Jan Howard 


72 - HowTo 

Draw Conceptually: 
Documents for Sol Lewitt 
Wall Drawing 328 


Columns 

From the Files pries open the archive, Double Take looks at one object two 
different ways. Artist on Art offers a creative response by an invited artist, 
Object Lesson exposes the stories behind objects, Portfolio presents a series 
of objects on a theme, Flow To explores the making of an object 










Introduction 


Straight Lines and Right Angles 


Reginald Dwayne Betts 


In a poem, I once described a prison as all straight lines and right angles. I had 
forgotten that many a man has been known to stare at the spaces between the 
bricks in the wall, to imagine that those lines form shapes when they falter or 
curve. The line, there, suggesting the expectation of completion, the realization, 
and the faltering. About twenty years ago, I watched a young man spend hours 
completing a self-portrait. In it, though partially veiled by his hands, his eyes 
stared defiant. The image told a story: the eyes admitted to the outrage that a 
line had been crossed; the hands to the inability to do anything about it. Later, 

I would read Ashbery’s “Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror”—the lines of poetry 
leading me to the Italian Renaissance artist Parmigianino, Parmigianino leading 
me back to the kid. The kid used an ink pen to draw, held in a way that the shaft 
of the pen was nearly parallel to the table. His portrait was all lines, thousands of 
them, revealing and obscuring his face, turning the page into a dozen prisons. 

The line all about distinguishing. Standing at the scratch line. Dropping someone 
a line. The line reminds me that there is kinship in the work I do as a poet and 
the work done by visual artists. Frost once told everyone that free verse is like 
playing tennis without the net, without the line. His point was that structure, 
form, is all a product of the line. A product of control and knowing what it means 
to abandon that control. Lines disrupt. They shape, turning syllables into song— 
into lyric. Lines elide and collapse. Lines are crooked. Chaos. Abundant—a line 
of poetry means one thing, a line of prose another, a line etched onto your body 
quite something else altogether. 

And lines can be deceptive, also painful. Several months ago, I walked into an 
art gallery in Florida and saw Anselm Kiefer’s sculpture Language of Birds. The 
armature of the intellect: manuscripts, broken chairs, torn pages. Built from 
materials that will decompose, that will break down, the fragility is held in what, 
frankly, can be called a monument. And springing from the heft: wings. I did not 
notice a single line. 

The thing that no one tells you about getting a tattoo is how the line changes 
everything. Changes everything in a way that makes you notice the line in ways 
that you may have never considered. The centrality of the line. My only tattoo 



Manual Fall 2017 


Out of Line 


is Kiefer’s piece, sprawling across my back and arms. The first session Anil 
Gupta told me he would do the lines. Six hours of lines carved into my back 
and arms. The books, when I looked at the artist’s stencil, were not books but 
lines, seemingly a thousand of them. Sitting in that chair, my body sweating, 
my eyes closed into slits, I could not tell where one line began and where one 
ended. The end of the line had become a myth, or a journey. The wings, a 
couple dozen lines etched into my skin like memory. It’s hard to understand 
how the curves on a three-dimensional sculpture, when placed on paper, 
become, at some point, the intersection between line and illusion. And that 
in that process, when being carried out on a man’s back that has become a 
canvas, redefines the concept of earning your lines. 

This issue of Manual —themed Out of Line—is a collection about the way that 
lines disrupt, point outward. In poetry, the attention to detail one takes in 
crafting a line is all about making the line disappear, making something it 
holds to take front stage. Kiefer’s sculpture, all those lines and angles, exists 
as metaphor in my head; on my back, it is a collection of lines that anyone 
who sees it knows it must mean more. The space between the lines creating 
the image of the books, the wings—the space around that argues for the 
importance of all that the lines hold. Out of line—or you got me fucked up, as 
someone might have said in my youth. A way to say, the thing you think you 
know, ain’t right. The thing said, done, imagined: a crossed line. These lines we 
draw are all about history. 

I wish I remember that kid’s name. He, sitting in a county jail, turned the work 
of an Italian Renaissance painter into lines that captured his fears and mine. 
He only used lines, conceding, in a way, that the line could describe anything, 
cloud anything, and free you just as much as lock you down. 




Introduction 




co 


Robert Gober 
American, b. 1954 
Untitled, 2000 

Color lithograph, color screenprint/embossment with hand drawing 
and erasure. © Robert Gober, courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery 
76.2 x mi cm. (30 x 43 13 /ie in.) 

Jesse Metcalf Fund 2003.10 
© Robert Gober, Courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery 


Issue 







Manual Fall 2017 


Out of Line 


From the Files 

Bill of Sale for Sam 
by Amber Lopez 


A peculiar document to discover in an art museum’s 
collection, this bill of sale for a slave was gifted to the 
RISD Museum in 1945 by Major John C. A. Watkins, 
the former publisher of the Providence Journal and 
the great-grandson of Frank A. Huson of Milledgeville, 
Georgia. The handwritten bill records a transaction 
between William L. Curl, a slave trader, and Huson, 
a slave owner, describing in great detail an enslaved 
man named Sam. 

The receipt provides Sam’s name, age, height, weight, 
trade, and value. Despite the lengthy description—as 
one would see accompanying a product or commod¬ 
ity—the information is limiting. There is no insight to 
Sam’s person, family, and life. Through research, one 
can learn about the individuals involved in his sale and 
acquisition, including their family lineage. However, 
Sam’s history is lost, and his humanity relegated to his 
price value. 

This purchase was especially unusual since it took 
place in September 1864, well over a year after 
the Emancipation Proclamation was issued in January 
1863, freeing enslaved persons within Confederate 
states, and just two months before 30,000 Union 
troops marched with General William T. Sherman 
through Milledgeville, the capital of Georgia and a seat 
of power in the Old South. 


Correspondence in the RISD Museum files suggests 
that the bill existed within a group. Watkins states in a 
letter to Gordon B. Washburn, the museum’s director, 
in 1945, “Here are the bills of sale for the family slaves, 
which you may make use of as you see fit [... ] the 
slave trader from whom [my great-grandmother] 
bought the ‘four Negrows’ for ‘sevvin thousand’ dollars." 
Further correspondence suggests the later transfer 
of the other documents to the Rhode Island Historical 
Society, however their location remains unknown. 

The absence of these documents, and the subsequent 
scarcity of information regarding Sam’s life, indicates 
some of the disadvantages researchers face while 
investigating the lives of formerly enslaved people. 
These issues also raise questions of whose histories 
have been and continue to be preserved, and whose 
have been erased. 


Origin: 
Object: 

Materials: 
Dimensions: 
Acquisition: 


American 

Bill of Sale for an Enslaved 
Person Named Sam, 1864 

Ink on paper 

13.3 x 20.3 cm. (5 5/16 x 8 in.) 

Gift of Major John C. A. Watkins 
45.055 




From the Files 




Manual Fall 2017 


Out of Line 


Kdlhie (florsheim 
263 doyle 

providence, fi OQQOo 
[401] 751-7991 

Kay 23, 1976 


Lee Hall, President 
Rhode Island School of Design 
2 College Street 
Providence, R.I. 02903 




R.I.S.D 

MAY 24 187a 

PRESIDENT’S 044 


jrv j 


R.i.b.O, 

MAY 22 1978 


PRESIDE NT 1 


S 0 p- r. 


Dear President Hall: 


Until last week, I had never been ashamed to admit I attended RISO. I 
now shudder at the thought, simply because you, as president of the school, 
have refused to take a stand against what the Providence Police did to the 
show at Electron Movers.Studio.. Whether your faculty or students are 
directly involved is incidental. It is also incidental that you consider 
the work that was shown and confiscated to be good work. What is, however, 
ossental, is that you recognize, as a representative of both the school and 
the artists community, the right to express what the work that is now beinq 
called pornographic is expressing. You have been absent amoung those defendinq 
this right. President Hall, and your absence is very conspicuous. 

Perhaps it is appropriate to remind you that if this attempt to censor the 
work coming from the artists’ community succeeds, it will be only the first 
somewher ? on down the road the artists’ work you may consider 
rthyf defense, such as your own, will be the subject of this kind of censorship 

Iin"i n readTha:eTee^set. fend y ° U " elf ° r ^ elSe be ‘ auSe Precedent 50 "^’ 


t ? at J ou ar ? f ? arful of what may happen to the school should you 
take an active stand on this issue. It seems, however, more appropriate for 
td ? ct d f end f hi ? Principle, because if you do not it will not be 
•°? 9 C ? ptain R|CCI and i |is G-men will think it is fair game to march 

that SLg orob^eneltngfce^'f 1 " 3 WOr “ ° ff thC walls and demandil1 3 


I think you have betrayed RISO, 
for leadership and yourself, as 
tnis issue. 


the community of artists’ that looks to RISD 
an artist, in refusing to take a stand on 


Sincerely, 



Katliie R. Flo 


holography 


cc: Bayard Ewing 
Robert Jurigels 

American Civil Liberties Union 
















From the Files 

Public Outrage and Private Parts 
by Douglas W. Doe 


“ANY SIZE ANY MEDIUM ANY THING ANYONE ANY 
PRIVATE ANY PART,” one solicitation said. 

An ad appeared in the RISD Press, a weekly student 
newspaper, on April 14,1978: “Private Parts— 
anonymous of course.” Subsequent ads provided 
more details of the collaborative exhibition, organized 
by RISD photography students. Denied gallery space 
on campus, the students moved to a fifth-floor loft at 
125 North Main Street, the home of Electron Movers, 
a video-art collaborative formed by faculty and 
alumni from the RISD Film/Video Department, led 
by professor Bob Jungels. The show opened May 12, 
with primarily photographs plus paintings, drawings, 
contact sheets, and a coin-operated Polaroid photo 
booth for making private images. 

Urged on by a city councilman, the Providence police 
visited the exhibition and Lt. Paul Yacavone, ignoring 
the advice of acting city solicitor Ronald Glantz, 
returned with a warrant and confiscated forty-three 
works amid a media circus. Most of the artworks 
were ruined when they were hauled out to the police 
van during a rainstorm. Yacavone had acted under 
Rhode Island’s new anti-obscenity law. RISD officials 
denied any connection to the exhibition, and their 
refusal to publicly support the artists only added 
to the controversy. 


Fearing arrest under the new law, students refused 
to identify the organizers of the show and both they 
and faculty hired lawyers. A federal judge quickly 
dismissed the case, ordering the return of the 
confiscated works. The artists, led by photography 
student Lester Wisner, filed a class-action lawsuit 
against the city to recover damages for lost, damaged, 
or destroyed art works. The city finally settled in 
1985, with most artists receiving $100. The RISD 
Archives holds twenty of the more than one hundred 
works exhibited, as well as sometimes heated 
correspondence exchanged between President Lee 
Hall and RISD alumni. 


Courtesy of the RISD Archives 


Issue 



Manual Fall 2017 


Out of Line 




May 25, 1978 


Ms. Kathie R. Florsheim 
263 Doyle 

Providence, Rhode Island 
Dear Ms. Florsheim: 

Thank you for your letter expressing your opinion 
regarding Rhode Island School of Design's relation¬ 
ship to the Providence Police and current exhibition 
at the gallery of the Electron Movers. 

I must remind you that the exhibition was not spon¬ 
sored by Rhode Island School of Design and is a 
matter for private citizens who are functioning 
independently as professional artists. I am interest¬ 
ed, nonthel ess , in your opinion. 

Yours cordially. 



Lee Hall 
President 



LH/mm 




















From the Files 


flotiheim 
263 doyle 

providence (I 02906 
HOI] 751-7991 

May 30 , 1978 



President Lee Hall 
Hhode Island School of Design 
2 College St 
Providence, H.I. 


Dear President Halls 


You need not remind me that HISD did not sponsor the Private Parts show 
as your public statements to that effect made your position very clear. 

You have intentionally avoided the point of my letter. Whether or not HISD 
sponsored or was directly or indirectly involved in this show is irrelevent. 
Hie First Amendment rights that are at stake here involve the school re¬ 
gardless of its relationship to this show. 

Your position on this issue is one of refusing to support the rights that 
are threatened by police action. This is an untenable stance. You have 
abdicated your responsibilities as a community loader and as an artist be¬ 
cause you have adopted such a gutless approach. This issue which you so 
easily disgard is not one between just the police and the "private citizens 
who function independently as professional artists," as you claim in your 
letter. It involves everyone in the community, and especially one who 
is the president of so well-known an art school as HISD. 


As I said previously, I am very uncomfortable with any association I have 
jifch PJSD because of your inaction. Furthermore, I think your spineless'behavior 
is a disgrace. You are an embarrassment to the school, its alumni and to 
the community. 


2iS/U 

Kathie 3. Florshdia 


J 




13 


76 


CD 


Issue 










Manual Fall 2017 


Out of Line 


Kathie R. Florsheim. Photographer 
P. O. Box 2367-A 
Providence, R.l. 02906 
(401) 751-7991 

July 5, 1978 


Lee Hall, President 
Bhode Island School of Design 
2 College Street 
Providence, H.I. 




Dear President Halls 

I am writing to tell you that CITIART HEWS intends to publish the correspondence 
that passed between us regarding the recent "Private Parts Show". If I 
do not hoar from you by Thursday, July I will assume you will not 
object to having your response made public. 


Sincerely, 



TERMS: Net cash 30 days. A service charge of 1 Vt % per month (annual rate of 18%) will apply on balances unpaid after 60 days. 





From the Files 


RHODE ISLAND SCHOOL OF DESIGN PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND 02903 TELEPHONE 401 331-3S07 




July 6, 1978 


Ms. Kathie Florsheim 
P.0. Box 2367-A 

Providence, Rhode Island 02906 
Dear Ms. Florsheim: 

I did not write to you for publication but, rather, wrote only 
to you. I do not want my letter(s) published and do not give 
permission. 

Thank you for asking. 


Yours cordially, 

\SSJ 

Lee Hall 
President 





Issue— 9 


















Out of Line 














Object Lesson 


Mist as Method 

Jeffrey Moser 


Historians like lines. They like to line things up 
chronologically—to put what came first before what 
came after. They also like to line up their sources 
with their stories—to lay their narratives on points 
of evidence. Good histories sleep comfortably on 
beds of nails. When some of those nails are removed, 
or twisted, the narrative is discomfited, and our 
faith in the reliability of the history suffers. Classical, 
empirical history works in the idiom of line—it 
points, delineates, outlines, and circumscribes. 
Without lines, its network of points deteriorates, 
and the nails that once supported it begin to 
puncture its facade. 

But some evidence is, by nature, less amenable 
to lineation. Some evidence merely gestures, vaguely, 
and in shadow. This is a story about one such gesture. 


FIG.1 

Attributed to Mi Youren 
Chinese, 1074-1151 
Cloudy Mountains (detail), no date 
Inkon paper 

199 x 32.4 cm. (78 'A * 12 % in.) 

Gift of Manton B. Metcalf 18.731 


Issue 


Manual Fall 2017 


Out of Line 


When accessioned by the RISD Museum in 1918, Cloudy 
Mountains (Yunshan Tu) was heralded as a major work by the important 
early Chinese painter Mi Youren (1074-1151), who together with his 
father, Mi Fu (1051-1107), is credited with developing an influential style 
of depicting verdant mountains cloaked in mist [Figs. 2-5]. Over the 
centuries, the father and son duo were celebrated by a succession of 
important critics, most famously the artist and theorist Dong Qichang 
(1555-1636), who regarded the Mi-style landscape as a critical link in 
the transmission of the Southern School lineage from the tenth-century 
painters Dong Yuan and Juran to the Four Masters of the Yuan (1271- 
1368). By the seventeenth century, artistic invocation of the style had 
coalesced around the so-called “Mi dot,” a diminutive lateral blot of 
dilute ink whose repeated application was used to build up the diffuse, 
indefinite mountains that characterized the style. 

The acquisition of the painting by the RISD Museum came at the 
high-water mark for the esteem of Asian art in the eyes of the American 
art world. Under the influence of scholars like Ernest Fenollosa (1853- 
1908), a generation of private collectors and museum curators in the 
United States endeavored to build collections of Chinese and Japanese 
painting, and to find in these works evidence of a precocious Asian 
penchant for Impressionism. When tasked with explaining the value of 
paintings like Cloudy Mountains to American audiences, these propo¬ 
nents spoke not in traditional Chinese terms of lineage and brushwork, 
but of an ahistorical aesthetic that was at once modern and timeless. 

In 1924, L. Earl Rowe (1882-1937), then director of RISD, spoke of Cloudy 
Mountains using language that reflected both the aesthetics of his era 
and a personal knack for hyperbole. “Here is true impression,” he wrote, 
“that which the French have long sought for, with but moderate success.” 1 

Such esteem did not endure. On June 23,1930, Tomita Kojiro, 
curator at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, visited the RISD Museum 
in the company of Akiyama Teruo, a prominent art historian and curator 
at the Tokyo Imperial Household Museum (the predecessor of the pres¬ 
ent Tokyo National Museum). During the short visit, Akiyama was invited 
to opine on the quality of Museum’s growing Asian collection. Cloudy 
Mountains was among the works he examined. The Mi style of “ink play” 
(mo xi ) had long commanded attention in Japanese circles, and the 
technique of rendering mountains with Mi dots was widely emulated by 


1 For a wider discussion of the history of the RISD Museum's collection of Chinese painting, and more on the views of 
Rowe and his contemporaries, see Deborah Del Gais, "The Early Formation of the Rhode Island School of Design Museum’s 
Chinese Collection," in Collectors, Collections and Collecting the Arts of China: Histories and Challenges, ed. Jason Steuber 
with Guolong Lai (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2014), 43-61. 




Object Lesson 


Japanese painters during the Edo period (1600-1868). The misty moun¬ 
tains were, in that sense, as much a part of the Japanese artistic tradi¬ 
tion as the Chinese. And Akiyama’s knowledge of the tradition evidently 
led him to dislike what he saw that day in Rhode Island. Although the 
records of that visit do not explain his reasoning, Akiyama’s conclusion 
was explicit. Cloudy Mountains was a fake. 

With that single stroke, the once-celebrated painting was con¬ 
signed to the dustbin of forgeries, copies, and other de-attributions 
that swelled at American museums in the 1930s and ’40s, as the heady 
acquisitions of the turn of the century were increasingly subjected 
to scrutiny, museum curators began to recognize the degree to which 
many of the seals, signatures, and other marks of viewing and ownership 
on traditional Chinese paintings had in fact been retroactively added 
by later dealers seeking to increase the value of anonymous works. It is 
no exaggeration to say that one of the key mechanisms of the late impe¬ 
rial Chinese art market was the transformation—through false sealing 
and signing—of paintings “in the style of” such-and-such famous mas¬ 
ter into works “by” the master. Awareness of this reality sparked wide¬ 
spread doubt about many of the Chinese paintings that had flowed into 
American collections in the early twentieth century. 

Like so many of its troubled kin, the “fake” Mi Youren was subse¬ 
quently committed to storage, where it has remained, largely untouched 
and unstudied, for the past ninety years. Museum records indicate 
that it was examined in 1990 by Wu Tung, curator of Chinese art at the 
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, as part of a conservation survey of the 
wider Asian collection. Wu added some specificity to Akiyama’s dismissal, 
characterizing the work as a copy of the “late Ming” period (or early 
seventeenth century) “probably based upon an original” but lacking 
the “depth and richness characteristic of Mi’s ink play.” But apart from 
that brief comment, and a reference by Deborah Del Gais in her impor¬ 
tant study of the history of RISD’s Chinese collection, the work has 
gone unnoticed in the scholarly literature of Chinese painting. It was 
not included in the major postwar surveys of Chinese painting, nor 
featured in the studies of the art of Mi Fu and Mi Youren that proliferated 
in the second half of the twentieth century. 

This invisibility is unfortunate, for no matter what one feels 
about the ultimate authenticity of Cloudy Mountains, it is unquestionable 
that it constitutes, at a minimum, an important record of the transmis¬ 
sion and critical reception of the Mi style. To understand why this is so, 
let us turn our attention to the visual character of the work itself, and to 
the documentation inscribed on its surface. 


Manual Fall 2017 


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2 


Cloudy Mountains is a lateral composition measuring nearly 
two meters in length and one third of a meter in height. Painted in pale, 
monochromatic washes and diffuse blots of dilute ink, the painting 
portrays a distant range of low mountains set against an empty sky. 

A similarly empty expanse—suggesting water—extends along the lower 
edge of the composition, neatly framing the landscape within lateral 
bands of negative space. The foothills of the distant mountains extend 
forward at irregular intervals to form a winding shoreline of low hillocks 
and gentle rises, decked with trees. The trees are rendered simply, with 
no more than two or three limbs rising from straight trunks that emerge 
directly from areas of reserved white ground. These are backed by a 
continuous bank of clouds that cloaks the lower slopes of the mountains 
and meanders upwards, amorphously, into the high valleys. Here and 
there, a faint line accentuates an edge of cloud, giving it a cumulous, 
bodily presence. While the peaks of the distant mountains are all plainly 
visible above the clouds, the pale tone and muted forms of the wider 
painting convey the sense—herein lies the cue for Rowe’s notion of the 
work’s impressionism—that one is perceiving the landscape through a 
veil of mist. One could characterize the aesthetic vision motivating the 
Mi style as the challenge of painting clouds in mist. 


FIG. 2 

Attributed to Mi Youren 
Chinese, 1074-1151 
Cloudy Mountains, no date 
Inkon paper 

199 x 32.4 cm. (78 ’/a x 12 % in.) 
Gift of Manton B. Metcalf 18.731 


The only sign of human habitation in the 
otherwise wild landscape is a distant pagoda rising 
from a notch in the hills roughly halfway along the 
composition [Fig. 3]. But unlike many other works of 
Chinese landscape painting, no paths beckon the eye 












Object Lesson 



FIG. 3 

Attributed to Mi Youren 
Chinese, 1074-1151 
Cloudy Mountains (detail), no date 
Inkon paper 

199 x 32.4 cm. (78 'A x 12 % in.) 

Gift of Manton B. Metcalf 18.731 



to the distant structure, and no figures suggest unfolding journeys within 
the land. The absence of foreground features and the uninterrupted water 
before the eye permits no access to the world beyond. The painting, in 
short, keeps the viewer at a distance. 

The painting bears three inscriptions written in semi-cursive 
“running script” calligraphy. The six characters on its rightmost edge [Fig. 1] 
read: “Painted by Mi Yuanhui [Youren], of Xiangyang.” The other two 
inscriptions feature poems about the painting, signed with the by-names 
of ZengDuanbo (active ca. 1127-1130) and Zhu Dunru 
(1081-1159). The surface, seams, and mounting silk of 
the painting bear the impressions of fifty-two collector’s 
seals. Mounted after the painting are two additional 
pieces of paper, bearing a number of additional seals 
and a total of fourteen colophons signed by a succession 
of prominent officials, collectors, and other literati 
ranging from Han Xing (1266-1341) to Zhu Deyi (1871- 
1942). Interpreting the aggregate content of these inscrip¬ 
tions is well beyond the scope of this brief essay. Suffice 
is to say that, if they are genuine, they collectively 
constitute an important document of the way in which 
the historical understanding of the Mi-style landscape 
evolved over time. 

When considering the question of the authenticity 
of Cloudy Mountains, two key factors should be kept 
in mind. The first is that all of the work’s features have 


3 


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FIGS.4 & 5 


Attributed to Mi Youren 
Chinese, 1074-1151 
Cloudy Mountains (detail), no date 
Ink on paper 

199 x 32.4 cm. (78 'A x 12 % in.) 

Gift of Manton B. Metcalf 18.731 


Out of Line 




Object Lesson 



5 




Fall 2017 


Out of Line 


analogues in the small corpus of approximately ten paintings that are 
generally regarded as good indicators of Mi Youren’s oeuvre. 2 The 
painting’s visual qualities—the horizontal composition, murky forms, 
abbreviated trees, coiling mists, and even the elimination of the 
foreground in favor of an expansive view at distance—are signature 
characteristics of the Mi mode. 3 The composition echoes that of Cloudy 
Mountains [Fig. 6] in the collection of the Cleveland Museum of Art, 
while the monochromatic ink, diffuse forms, and “rootless” trees find 
clear parallel in a similarly named composition in the Metropolitan 
Museum of Art [Fig. 7]. Other works also bear Mi’s signature, in a hand 
not radically dissimilar. The inscription of other writers’ encomia 
directly on the surface of the painting—in the manner of Zeng Duanbo 
and Zhu Dunru’s poems—was still unusual in the twelfth century, 
but certainly not unprecedented. In other words, there are no obvious 
red flags warning that the work is something substantially different 
than what it claims to be. 

That said, there are a few characteristics encouraging caution. 
As Wu Tung remarked, the forms appear flatter than those of most Mi 
attributions. None of the identified seals on the painting itself predate 
the seventeenth century. Therefore, even if we accept all of the seals 


FIG. 6 

Mi Youren (Chinese, 1072-1151) 

Cloudy Mountains, 1130 
Handscroll, ink and color on silk 
I mage: 43.7 x 192.6 cm (17 3 /ie x 75 13 /ie in) 
Overall: 45.5 x 646.8 cm (17% x 254 5 /s in) 
The Cleveland Museum of Art, Purchase 
from the J. H. Wade Fund 1933.220 
© The Cleveland Museum of Art 


2 My understanding of this corpus derives substantially from Peter Sturman, "Mi Youren and 
the Inherited Literati Tradition: Dimensions of Ink-Play” (PhD diss., Yale University, 1989), 444- 
501, whose study remains the most thoroughly documented survey of Mi Youren's oeuvre. 

3 For a recent discussion of these characteristics, see Ju Hsi Chou and Anita Chung, Silent 
Poetry: Chinese Paintings from the Collection of the Cleveland Museum of Art (Cleveland: 
Cleveland Museum of Art, 2015), 50-55. 



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Object Lesson 



FIG. 7 

Mi Youren (Chinese, 1074-1151) 

Cloudy Mountains, before 1200 
Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279) 
Handscroll; inkon paper 
Image: 10% * 227iein.(27.6 * 57cm.) 

Ex coll.: C. C. Wang Family, Purchase, Gift of J. 
Pierpont Morgan, by exchange, 19731973.121.1 
The Metropolitan Museum of Art 


as genuine, there is no direct evidence to demonstrate 
that the painting dates all the way back to the twelfth 
century. The presence of the early colophons offers 
no firm support [Fig. 8], since colophons were regularly 
separated from damaged works and remounted along¬ 
side copies. The calligraphy and painting could be the work of a skilled 
seventeenth-century copyist. So no smoking guns for or against, just 
an assortment of qualities suggesting proximity. At best, all that we can 
reliably conclude is that the status of the work is indeterminate. 

But—and this is the second key factor to consider—it is precisely 
this quality of indeterminacy that links Cloudy Mountains to the wider 
corpus of Mi Youren attributions. Of the ten aforementioned works that 
are most frequently associated with Mi Youren in the current literature, 









Manual Fall 2017 


Out of Line 



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only one, to the best of my knowledge, is universally accepted as a genu¬ 
ine painting by Mi Youren. 4 Every other work, in its visual character 
or documentation, leaves the critically minded with reason for concern. 
And a number of these “strong” attributions, like the RISD painting, 
lack early seals. Most scholars accept at least a few of the other paintings 
as genuine, but disagree about which ones they are. If the RISD Museum’s 
Cloudy Mountains is, as Wu Tung suggested, a “close copy,” it is certainly 
as close as the most marginal of these other attributions. As such, it 
seems unnecessarily stringent to exclude the RISD painting from discus¬ 
sion of the complex network of intermediary processes by which the 
art of Mi Youren was transmitted to the present. Instead, it would seem 
that we, as historians, should take our cue from the mistiness of Mi’s 
painting method. Rather than attempting to draw sharp lines between 
what is and is not a reliable Mi painting, we should 
endeavor to see the body of impressionistically attributed 
works from the only perspective that we can genuinely 


Attributed to Mi Youren 
Chinese, 1074-1151 

Cloudy Mountains (colophons), no date 
Inkon paper 

199 x 32.4 cm. (78% x 12 % in.) 

Gift of Manton B. Metcalf 18.731 


4 This is Marvelous Views of the Xiao and Xiang (Xiao Xiang qi guan tu), in the collection 
of the Palace Museum in Beijing, China. 


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76 


claim—as images of what has become diffused by the mists of the 
millennium that intervenes between what was then and what is today. 
We will probably never know for sure how exactly to draw the line 
from Cloudy Mountains back to Mi Youren, but if we want to be true 
to his method, then the painting certainly warrants a closer look. 


Acknowledgments 

This essay draws upon research conducted with the support of the Mellon-funded "Assemblages" 
fellowship sponsored by the RISD Museum and Haffenreffer Museum. I am particularly grateful to the staff 
of the Prints, Drawings, and Photographs Department at the RISD Museum, especially Jan Howard, Linda 
Catano, and Christin Fitzgerald, for generously facilitating regular viewing requests. I am also indebted to 
Li Xue, curator at the National Museum of China and visiting fellow at Brown University (2016-2017), who 
provided invaluable assistance in my study of the painting’s documentation. Professor Bai Qianshen, of 
Zhejiang University, also kindly offered his insights on Cloudy Mountains during a visit to the RISD Museum 
on February 23, 2017. Most of all, I must thank the students in my brushwork seminar at Brown University, 
who all contributed to my understanding of the painting and its history: Alyssa Cantu, Elaine Cheung, Rita 
Ding, Yumeng Fan, Mary Elisabeth Flinn, Tia Heywood, Claudia Jiang, Erica Kinias, He Ri Kwon, Jung Ah Lee, 
Xuchen Li, Jennifer Osborne, Xinyue Qian, Avery Semjen, Rose Sheehan, Diyang Shi, Moshe Steyn, Yixuan 
Wang, Dandan Xu, Bowen Yang, and Chen Ye. 


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Manual Fall 2017 


Out of Line 


Double 


Namita Vijay Dharia: This portfolio of artist work, 
compiled from those who lived on New York’s Lower 
East Side. A portfolio that voices dissent. 

Entitled: Your House is Mine. 

This portfolio of thirty-one posters 1 gathered in a 
cover made from salvaged wood. Reminiscent of 
aging, dilapidated homes, decayed through years of 
neglect and disrepair. Scarred and scratched plywood, 
with a gouged-out hole, materially representing the 
trauma of a neighborhood, torn apart. These works 
bound together through the salvaged stock of homes, 
abandoned and demolished, act as a claim for rights 
on the Lower East Side. 

“Your House is Mine,” they cry. 

Drawing against a history of private property, from 
Adam Smith to the Chicago Boys, these images 
challenge territory. Boundaries and borders, they pro¬ 
claim, serve to classify and segregate. Private property, 
they say, only accumulates. Stop furthering class 
inequality and enabling the gendered control of family . 2 

“Your House is Mine,” shout the painted murmurs 
across urban walls. Practice an OCCUPY. A radical 
populist politics . 3 RESIST. 

This New York subway map that Stash Two takes, 
this lightweight pocket map, flapping flimsy in the 
wind, upon which commuters trace their routes 
onto and into the city. This New York public subway 
map, with its neat lines and programmed stops, 
organized, managed, and clean, leaves no space for 
those who labor to keep the city running with an 
equal clockwork efficiency. No spaces for their homes. 
No space for their children. Poverty and class 


1 With additional text and illustrations. 

2 Friedrich Engels and Lewis Henry Morgan, The Origin of the Family, Private 
Property, and the State (New York: Pathfinder Press, 1972). 

3 Andrew Castrucci, and Nadia Coen, eds., foreword to Your House Is Mine: An 
Act of Resistance (New York: Bullet Space, 1993). 


Namita Vijay Dharia / 
Stefano Bloch 

Take 

struggle seethe through the gaps in the subway lines. 
The graffiti forms an elocutionary shout, a reminder, 

“I exist, they are here, I am .” 4 

Upon this map of rational lines, Stash Two scrawls 
two lovers’ names—Stash and Nancy—limbs inter¬ 
twined. Across this ordered city map, within and 
across its tracks and gaps. In metallic silver, blue, 
and black, with jagged edges, peaks, twirls, and swirls, 
he writes. Holding space, infilling, and being. See us, 
this city is ours as well. 

Please recognize. “Your House is Mine.” 

The violence of urban development echoes through 
the chasms in colors, through the points and dips, 
the slips and slides of painted lines as they smash, 
crash, and peak. The bold lines that refuse to con¬ 
form, that speak of a history erased, of homelessness, 
inaccessible healthcare, joblessness, and declining 
standards of education, which combine with systemic 
racism, gendered discrimination, AIDS epidemics, and 
gay rights denied . 5 These entangled and dependent 
histories radiate through that simple subway map. 

“Your House is Mine.” 

The sentence holds true today, evermore than it did 
before. It echoes across the world—Bombay, Bogota, 
Beijing—and circulates in the high rises of neo¬ 
colonial power. Stash Two reminds us of the roles 
artists play to evoke empathy and provoke and to 
imagine alternate visions. To form a powerful “means 
of resistance .” 6 

“Your House is Mine.” 

4 Andrew Castrucci, email message to author, May 20,2017. 

5 Castrucci and Coen, Your House Is Mine, foreword. 

6 Ibid. 





Double Take 


Stash Two 

Subway Map, from the portfolio 
YOUR HOUSE IS MINE, 1993 
Screenprint on Mohawk vellum paper 
Image/sheet: 50.5 * 59.3 cm. (19% * 23% in.) 
Georgianna Sayles Aldrich Fund 2013.91.3.6 
© Stash Two 



Stefano Bloch: To go “all city”—an adverb—is to 
move across the city and mark surfaces along the 
way. To be an “all-city” graffiti writer—an adjective— 
is to be widely recognized for such efforts. In 
pursuing all-city status, writers pore over maps, 
highlighting areas they have hit and identifying areas 
in need of attention on the next night’s bombing 
mission. The city map provides wayfinding for vandals, 
equipped with spray paint and markers, as they 
personalize space, garner fame, and have fun. 

Writing graffiti, as a systematically practiced 
and stylized mode of marking urban infrastructure 
by members of a coherent subculture, started in 
Philadelphia during the late 1960s, and by the early 
1970s became associated with New York City and 
its contentiously creative environs. By the 1980s, the 
gallerization of graffiti in New York was having as 
much of an enervating effect on the spirit of the 
transgressive subculture as zero-tolerance policing 
influenced by the broken-windows theory. But in 
Los Angeles, Chicano/a gang culture was influencing 
writers’ style of bombing, the placement of their tags, 
and their deeply superficial prolificacy and radical 
approach to marking space. 


While curators on the East Coast profited from 
the taming of “graffiti art,” bombers on the West 
Coast boldly reimagined the aesthetic of the 60-mile- 
long metropolis of L.A. and its 500 miles of brutalist 
freeway walls. 

But going all city became a universal goal 
among writers on both coasts by the early 
1990s. Iconoclastic writers sought out fame and 
adventure even if they sometimes painted appealing 
compositions for the easy consumption of everyday 
audiences. “Graffiti art” that was painted with 
permission—with its elaborate lettering, complex 
color schemes, intricate lines, and developed 
backdrops—was simply the presentable face of an 
otherwise raucous community bent on personalizing 
the city by force. 

Stash Two juxtaposes this conceit and 
aesthetic appeal with a name produced across a 
symbolic representation of the city and its lines 
of mobility. The title—Your House is Mine—likewise 
speaks to the hubris of the graffiti writer who 
actively, even obsessively, lays claim to space. Stash 
Two’s 3-D letters are printed across a 2-D surface in 
a quintessential^ early 1990s East Coast style, with 
arrows, a star, and a heart encased within a blue outer 
border. The style of the piece dates the composition, 
whereas the desire to saturate the face of the city 
with one’s name is timeless. 

Stash Two’s appeal to all-city status relies on 
the transit map as canvas—a representation of the 
formal city envisioned by planners, approved of 
by politicians, and executed by civil engineers. By 
painting their names on walls, utility poles, and along 
curbs, Stash Two and others show us that the urban 
landscape is a never-finished palimpsest. It is a 
collective endeavor in which ownership and authority 
are merely concepts and contested social constructs. 


33 

76 


CD 


Issue 





























Manual Fall 2017 


Out of Line 


Double 


Carey Young 

British American, b. 1970 

Declared Void, 2005 

Vinyl drawing and text on wall 

339.1 x 339.1 x 339.1 cm. (133 x 133 x 133 in.) 

Richard Brown Baker Fund for Contemporary 

British Art 2009.38 

© Carey Young 


Jared A. Goldstein / 

Mimi Cabell 


Take 


Jared A. Goldstein: At first glance, Carey Young’s 
Declared Void seems to suggest that it is arbitrary 
or even meaningless to distinguish between a space 
where the Constitution applies and where it does 
not. Marked off by black tape, the lawless zone 
looks no different than the area around it. We can 
freely enter or leave the space at will. Perhaps the 
protections offered by the Constitution are illusory 
as well, because we can see that there are no 
consequences if we enter the lawless zone or stay 
outside it. Maybe it is just superstitious to believe 
that a document written hundreds of years ago 
could somehow protect the rights to free speech, 
to equal treatment, and to freedom from excessive 
force in one space but not another. 

Another moment’s reflection should remind us 
otherwise. Recent history provides too many exam¬ 
ples of what happens in spaces where law is absent. 


Beginning in December 2001, the United States 
sent hundreds of foreign terrorist suspects to a 
detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Twelve 
of them were my clients. Military authorities believed 
that the U.S. Constitution would not apply there due 
to Guantanamo’s unique legal status—it is under 
exclusive U.S. control but technically remains part 
of Cuba. Secret memos, since declassified, have made 
it clear that the military chose Guantanamo precisely 
for this reason. They wanted to create a secret prison 
outside the law. 

in secret prisons there are no rules, no limits 
on how the prisoners can be treated. Torture becomes 
routine. In Guantanamo, some prisoners were water- 
boarded. Others, like my clients, were deprived of 
sleep for days and forced to stand in stress positions 
for eighteen hours at a time. With no law to stop 
them, the military believed that they could keep the 





Double Take 



BY ENTERING THE ZONE CREATED BY 
THIS DRAWING, AND FOR THE PERIOD 
YOU REMAIN THERE, YOU DECLARE AND 
AGREE THAT THE US CONSTITUTION 
WILL NOT APPLY TO YOU. 



35 

76 


prisoners in isolation indefinitely and give them no 
hearings where they could challenge their imprison¬ 
ment, no books, no exercise, and no way to contact 
lawyers or their families, friends, or home govern¬ 
ments. To break the prisoners’ spirits, interrogators 
told them they would die in Guantanamo and no one 
would know or care. 

It took years for U.S. courts to step in and 
declare that even on a military base in Cuba, 
the Constitution imposes limits on the treatment 
of prisoners. 

The lawless zone in Declared Void, however, 
is no prison or torture chamber, but a quiet corner in 
the safety of a museum. Here, it makes no difference 
whether we say the Constitution applies or not. 

But the installation should lead us to contemplate 
other spaces—Abu Ghraib, Soviet gulags, Auschwitz— 
where law was absent. Or maybe we should think 


about places closer to home—the state prison, a road¬ 
side where a policeman has pulled over a motorist for 
a broken taillight, or a public-school classroom where 
a teacher is about to punish a student. Are there any 
limits on what the guards can do to the prisoners, what 
the policeman can do to the driver, what the teacher 
can do to the student? In those spaces, it can make all 
the difference whether the Constitution applies. 


Issue 










Double Take 


Mimi Cabell: A friend says that what she likes about 
Carey Young’s Declared Void is that it makes her 
think about whether there are rules outside of lan¬ 
guage, and that so many borders are constructed in 
words. I can’t escape the relationship between bodies 
and language, or rules as expressed through lan¬ 
guage, and bodies as where these rules meet resis¬ 
tance in the form of flesh. Or maybe I mean women; 
or maybe I mean the mutable boundaries of bodies. 

in an image of Declared Void, three people 
stand inside the cube delineated as being “outside” 
the reach of the Constitution. They are all static, 
paused. Two of them are talking together, the other 
stands by herself. There is no urgency in their body 
language, and this feels like the schism of the piece. 
The ease and languor one can walk “into” or “out 
of” the “piece.” There is no moving through, or any 
suggestion of transition, you are either in or out. To 
enter the delineated space renders one “void,” but 
is this a form of freedom or imprisonment? To outline 
this space in this way brings our attention to space 
itself; once we have this site outside the reach of 
the Constitution, we must query the nature of the 
space to which the Constitution does apply, because 
is there any difference between the two? Young 
spoke about Declared Void in reference to the black 
sites instituted by President George Bush, and the 
“enhanced” interrogation techniques that occurred 
at them, and the piece is meant to bring attention 
to these extrajudicial spaces. But for me it points to 
the space we all inhabit here in the United States, 
and how in this country, pockets exist everywhere, 


Carey Young 

British American, b. 1970 

Declared Void, 2005 

Vinyl drawing and text on wall 

339.1 x 339.1 x 339.1 cm. (133 x 133 x 133 in.) 

Richard Brown Baker Fund for 

Contemporary British Art 2009.38 

© Carey Young 

Courtesy Paula Cooper Gallery, New York 


Jared A. Goldstein/ 
Mimi Cabell 


37 

76 

and sometimes force is applied with excessive 
zeal, and sometimes it is not applied at all. Bodies 
have been harmed; people are dying. 

So what if you choose to enter that space? 

What happens? Maybe the point is that nothing 
happens, and that while the Constitution is a physical 
thing, its physicality is irrelevant, and its project, 
its reach in language, is only rendered visible when it 
collides with bodies, when it is dispatched on them. 

The three people in this image do not feel the 
law collide with them, its force. Declared Void is 
a proposition, an invitation into an imagined space, 
a theoretical space, a constructed space, a 
performative space. Does a person need to feel it? 

How? What would constitute feeling? Rebecca Solnit 
writes about the difference between our perceptions 
of thought and feeling, and in The Mother of All 
Questions details the history in which women’s 
work has always been stripped of its authority and 
placed in the realm of “feeling,” thereby undermining 
its intelligence, rigor, and expertise. Maybe the 
point is that we continue to fail to develop diverse 
perceptions of what power, authority, and knowledge 
look like. Choice is an illusion. 

So let us address the Constitution, this 
product of racism and patriarchy, through the lens 
of feeling. Yes. Let us pause and feel for a moment. 

Stay there. 


Issue 






















Manual Fall 2017 


Out of Line 


Double 


Ganzeer 

Egyptian, b. 1982 

Of course, Blue Bra Lady, 2014 

Color screenprint and handcoloring on paper 

63.5 x 48.3 cm. (25 * 19 in.) 

Helen M. Danforth Acquisition Fund 2015.14.3 
© Ganzeer 


Fida Adely / 
Lucinda Hitchcock 


Take 


Fida Adely: Among the most iconic images of 
Egypt’s Arab Spring was that of soldiers beating 
and dragging a veiled woman in an abaya and, in the 
process, disrobing her to reveal her blue bra. This 
aggression on a female body before the eyes of the 
world crossed a line for many Egyptians. Protests 
that followed took up the slogan “Egyptian girls are 
a red line.” There was something particularly jarring 
about seeing this woman dragged through the street, 
beaten and exposed. The male protestor near her, 
who was also viciously attacked, got little attention. 
Men’s bodies have never enjoyed the protections 
women’s presumably hold. It was the rupture of this 
gendered division of repression that emboldened 
protestors. The regime was clearly out of line. 

The Blue Bra Girl became a poignant symbol of 
official repression—a symbol taken up by protestors, 
artists, and scholars. The regime scrambled to 
discredit Blue Bra Girl on state television, even 
suggesting that the choice of a blue bra itself was out 
of line. Why would a modest woman in an abaya be 
wearing an attractive blue bra? It was auspicious that 
her bra should be blue that day—the blue of the Nile, 
a national treasure. One wonders what accusations 
pro-regime supporters would have hurled if her bra 
were Islamic green, or a racier communist red. 

Egyptian women have protested throughout 
the past century, their participation in the streets 
always a potent but contested political symbol. 

Like their male counterparts, women protestors 
must legitimize their participation by emphasizing 
their nationalist goals, but they also must affirm 


their gendered roles (as mothers of the nation 
and protectors in their own right) and their pure 
intentions. Those who seek to delegitimize women’s 
participation do so by calling into question their 
morals and scrutinizing their bodies, a phenomenon 
not unique to Egypt by any stretch. The virginity 
testing forced on female protestors by Egyptian 
authorities is one particularly egregious manifestation 
of such scrutiny. 

After the Blue Bra Girl incident, protestors 
demanded “protection” for Egyptian women and 
called the men of the regime to account. Activism 
often demands we work with dominant norms or moral 
ideals to make claims to justice. Discursive messages 
such as Protest is American, What would Jesus do?, 
and Treat us like you would your sister can re-inscribe, 
strengthen, or upend prevailing norms. The failure to 
protect the Blue Bra Girl—the beating and stomping of 
her body and the bodies of those who came to protect 
her—served as one of those moments when being out 
of line might rewrite the lines. 

The Blue Bra Girl remains a powerful political 
icon. Ganzeer’s caption, “Of course the army protects 
the revolution,” drips with sarcasm, as the Egyptian 
army has systematically repressed all forms of 
activism, particularly since the overthrow of President 
Morsi in 2013. But they can’t ban the political memory 
of these events, or the emblem of the blue bra. 





Double Take 


Lucinda Hitchcock: Blue Bra Lady, like many political- 
protest images before it, operates using a few key 
graphic principles: visual simplicity, reductive forms, 
and immediate recognition. This sort of artwork 
relies on well-known or preexisting imagery, has a 
clear narrative, and is easily reproducible. In this 
instance, Ganzeer uses artistic license to pull a young 
woman from a viral news story and present her in 
the form of a visual icon. The “girl with the blue bra” 
was, in fact, a protester assaulted by army soldiers 
in Egypt in 2011. The photographic image that 
captured her assault was distributed in print and 
on screen. It became so well known that it took on 
symbolic meaning and began to appear around the 
city in other forms. 

While Ganzeer’s Blue Bra Lady is very much 
a product of today, its legacy is rooted in such 
polemical paintings as Turner’s Slave Ship (1840) and 
Picasso’s Guernica (1937), which visualized the stark 
realities of the Atlantic slave trade and the bombing 


of Basque civilians during the Spanish Civil War, 
respectively. It’s also an example of a political poster, 
a form whose history is intertwined with the visual 
propaganda and advertising design of the Modern 
era. John Heartfield, an anti-fascist artist from 
the 1930s, is considered progenitor to much of the 
successful political artwork we see today. His early 
subversions of “found” imagery opened the door 
to later artists such as Gran Fury, the Guerilla Girls, 

Barbara Kruger, and Banksy, to name just a few. 

Iconic photos of the power of one unarmed 
individual against a multitude have been used 
repeatedly in various media and by numerous artists. 41 
A recent example is the Reuters photograph taken ~~ 

during a protest against police brutality in which 76 

leshia Evans, standing alone, cool and collected in a 
flowing dress, stares down a battalion of armed com¬ 
bat police. It instantly recalled another image: that 
of a lone man facing a column of tanks during the 
1989 Tiananmen Square protests. Earlier images of 
Vietnam War protesters stuffing flowers into the bar¬ 
rels of police rifles worked in the same way. Simple 
stories of right against might, presented in easily 
reproducible visual forms, become perfect fodder for 
the creation of iconic imagery with staying power. 

Ganzeer’s print is drawn in simple lines, with 
text that sarcastically states, “Of course the army 
protects the revolution.” The blue bra immediately 
identifies his subject as the young woman brutalized 
by soldiers. In this new image she is strong: she is 
no longer on her back, vulnerable on the streets of 

CD 

Cairo, being pummeled by police. She is upright, her 
swollen eye almost winking with wisdom, her smile 
hinting at humor. Empowered, she fills the frame 
entirely and faces us unflinching. She exudes pride 
and confidence, reclaiming her right not only to exist, 
but to defy. Without shame, she owns her identity, her 
beauty, and her gorgeous blue bra. She is now more 
than herself. She is Courage. 



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Iranian 

Sufi Dervish Hat (Taj), early 1900s 
Felted wool embroidered with silk 
17.8 x 15.9 cm. (7 * 6 5 /i 6 in.) 

Gift of Anne G. Cann 1992.058.2 


Kate Irvin / 
Sheida Soleimani 


Take 


Double 


Kate Irvin: This hat once crowned the head of a 
Persian dervish, a follower of the mystical ascetic 
traditions of Muslim Sufism. It combines the coarse, 
earthly materiality of felted wool with embroidered 
calligraphic text that sings to the heavens in praise 
of Ali. The hat is basic, elemental even, but sprouting 
from a loam of matted fibers are verses of prayer 
that speak to the potential for even the most humble 
devotee to attain divine wisdom through spiritually 
inspired ritual. 

By tradition, the unassuming, undyed, light- 
brown felted base of the hat would have been made 
from the wool of a yearling camel, though sheep’s 
wool is a common supplement and substitute. The 
practice of feltmaking stretches back thousands 
of years, spreading from Central Asia to the Iranian 
plateau via nomadic Turkic-Mongolian tribes. 
Traversing harsh terrain, these migrant people used 
to full effect the resources offered by their camels 
and sheep. To the scaly fibers of their herd’s fleece 
they applied heat, moisture, and friction, resulting in 
a robust, pliable, and remarkably resilient textile that 
has assumed sacred and mystical properties among 
nomads and nobles alike, symbolizing spiritual purity 
and strength. 

In dervish traditions the hat, as worn, rep¬ 
resents the center of one’s faith. Indeed, following the 
example of Mohammad and his companions, men in 
most Muslim societies have traditionally donned head 
coverings, whether turban and/or brimless hat, espe¬ 
cially when praying, adding embellishment as further 
display of devotion and dedication. Having embraced 
an austere and mendicant life, some dervishes 
engage in the meditative ritual of hand-embroidering 


religious text on their taj, or crown as an additional 
expression of their spiritual commitment. 

Here black silk running stitches and false 
satin stitches worked in a herringbone pattern were 
mindfully anchored into the spongy felted wool to 
form architectural divisions housing paeans to Allah, 
Mohammad, and Ali. Undulating lines accented 
with pulsating marks materialize into four arched 
shapes that represent the mihrab, the niche in 
the wall of a mosque pointing toward Mecca, thus 
enclosing the prayer verses in an appropriate 
context. At the top, delicately curving lines create 
an eight-petal flower, the center of which is an 
ethereal rosette representing God and the heavens 
and connecting the divine to the human. 

Embroidered religious dedications and 
blessings date to the early decades of Islam’s spread 
in the late seventh century CE. Referred to as tiraz, 
derived from the Persian word for embroidery, 
textiles with Arabic inscriptions were produced in 
government workshops and sponsored by the ruling 
elite to reinforce their claim of governance 
in the name of Allah. The dervish hat is linked to 
this history, yet its making and meaning crosses 
into different territory. Created and worn in spiritual 
reverie, it is an emblem of individuals operating 
within profound tradition, yet outside of society’s 
norms, serving as a guide to mystical revelation. 





Double Take 



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Kate Irvin / 

Sheida Soleimani 


Sheida Soleimani: We often brand ourselves: our 
politics, our ideologies, and our projections of self 
are often legible in the garments we choose. The 
style of this cap is known as a sikke, referring to its 
somewhat conical shape. The text, which is in 
Arabic, signals that the wearer belongs to the dervish 
sect, and emphasizes those philosophical teachings. 
Hats like this one have fallen out of favor within the 
last 100 years, corresponding with enhanced contacts 
with the West and increased influence of modern 
Western culture in Iran and Turkey, the main locations 
of dervish communities. 

The clothing worn by a dervish is itself a form 
of branding, meant to be representative of what Imam 
AN or Prophet Mohammad would have worn, identify¬ 
ing the dervish as a modest man who has taken 
a vow of poverty. The word dervish itself relates to 
the Farsi dar-aviz, which literally translates to “one 
who hangs off of the door”—a beggar. Dervishes are 
beggars by choice, not by force. 

Each side of the cap includes a portion of text, 
and together they comprise a two-line poem from 
a prayer from Bihar al-Anwar, an influential reference 
book for devout followers of the Shia religion. While 
verses from the Quran are the ultimate arbitrators of 
truth and of right or wrong, Bihar al-Anwar is often 
used by religious Shiites seeking to understand how 
to navigate difficult religious edicts or questions. 

This poem, recited as a chant, presumably will bring 
a good omen, or savab, to the person who recites 
it. By chanting these words, dervishes believe they 
become closer to AM, the first Imam for Shiites, who 
will reward them by answering their prayers. 

The text on the cap could be equated to 
gospel, and is, in a way, a prayer. It begins by praising 
Ali (image 1, previous page), declaring that he owns 
extraordinary power and is capable of solving all the 
problems and difficulties of mankind. 



( 2 ) 



( 3 ) 



( 4 ) 

It then proceeds to ask Ali for his help and 
support, all the while continuing to assure Ali that this 
obedient Dervish will remain loyal to him (2-3).The 
verse ends with a declaration in believing in God and 
Prophet Mohammad, and asks Imam Ali for his help: 

I need your help, Ali, please help me, Ali, Oh, Ali (4). 







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Object Lesson 


Shahzia Sikander: 
Drawing and Disruption 

Jan Howard 


One is most charged as an artist 
... when you are thinking with 
your brush. Some of it will be 
uncomfortable. In so many ways, 
taking the route of art is not to 
seek stability in uncertain times; 
it is to confront the uncertainty . 1 


Shahzia Sikander, November 1, 2016 


FIG.1 

Shahzia Sikander 

American and Pakistani, b.1969 

(RISD MFA1995, Painting/Printmaking) 

Web (detail), 2002 

Ink, opaque watercolor, graphite, and tea on wasli paper 
Sheet: 22.7 * 18.9 cm. (8 16 /ie * 7 7 /ie in.) 

Paula and Leonard Granoff Fund 2003.46 
©Shahzia Sikander 


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Drawing is at the heart of Shahzia Sikander’s artistic practice, and 
she uses her gift as an image maker to upend expectations and challenge 
the status quo, whether within an artistic discipline or politics. The RISD 
Museum’s intimate work Web [Figs. 1 and 2] shows Sikander’s deft linear 
facility and imagination at play, in this instance in response to a world 
ruptured by the terrorist events of September 11,2001. The composition 
is rich and complex in execution and interpretation; within it she layers 
visually disruptive juxtapositions, including the disproportionate use of 
scale, with motifs and narratives from multiple eras and cultures, to create 
new ways of seeing and understanding. 

Delicate tracery delineates a literal web over the top half of the 
drawing, and its context within the work offers many ways to think about its 
interpretation. An allusion that many Westerners might miss is the story of 
Muhammad and the spider and the cave. To briefly recount this well-known 
tale: Muhammad needed to escape Mecca, where he was threatened with 
death by those angered by his teachings of Allah. He fled along with his clos¬ 
est friend, Abu Bakr al-Siddiq, to Yathrib (now Medina, Saudi Arabia), where 
his followers had settled. They hid in a cave, as Muhammad was certain 
that God would hear their prayers to protect them. In answer to their call, a 
spider wove a web that so completely covered the entrance to the cave, their 
pursuers were fooled and moved on. 2 

Sikander, born in Lahore, Pakistan, is a strong advocate “for the 
perception of Muslim Americans to gain depth and momentum through art 
and literature that is free to engage, explore, critique, and expand its inher¬ 
ent Muslim-ness.” 3 Artists and writers referencing Islamic culture are 
often at a disadvantage working in America, where so few fully understand 
basic narratives and motifs. While Sikander was raised a Muslim, she 
attended a Catholic high school in Lahore and has a broad background in 
Urdu and English literature. She first came to the United States in 1992 for 
an exhibition at the Pakistan Embassy, after achieving early success at 
home for her innovative approach to traditional Indo-Persian miniature 
painting. The following year she enrolled in the graduate program in the 
Painting and Printmaking Department at RISD and has lived in this countiy 


FIG. 2 

Shahzia Sikander 
American and Pakistani, b. 1969 
(RISD MFA1995, Painting/Printmaking) 
Web, 2002 

Ink, opaque watercolor, graphite, and tea 
on wasli paper 

Sheet: 22.7 * 18.9 cm. (8 15 /ie * 7 7 /ie in.) 
Paula and Leonard Granoff Fund 2003.46 
©Shahzia Sikander 


ever since. Working here as a Muslim was initially liber¬ 
ating. Although she had a supportive family and art com¬ 
munity in Lahore, life under the regime of Muhammad 
Zia-ul-haq had become increasingly restrictive. In America, 
Sikander achieved wide recognition in museum and galler¬ 
ies by the late 1990s for both her painted miniatures based 
on Indo-Persian traditions and her large-scale installa¬ 
tions and wall drawings. At a time when the contemporary 




Object Lesson 



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Western art world had few South Asian representatives, her work contrib¬ 
uted to a growing discourse here around cultural identity, especially by 
artists previously excluded including women, people of color, and those 
working outside the U.S. and Europe. 4 Her work also engaged a renewed 
appreciation for figuration and narrative. But nearly ten years after 
Sikander arrived in America, the attacks of September 11th changed what 
it meant to be Muslim in this country. 

In Web , the spider and its web seem to play dual roles of protect¬ 
ing and ensnaring, perhaps a comment on the shifting attitude of the U.S. 
government and many citizens toward Muslims. There is a dichotomy in 
the web, as it appears to be in the process of construction at the bottom 
and destruction at the top, where a lion is devouring a deer. The spider, 
comparable in size to the large mammals surrounding it, sits at the web’s 
center, where it has seemingly provided a barrier for the deer behind it. 
Another deer prances on the web, and a pair of antelope stands at its edge, 
threatened by an approaching cheetah or leopard. Their positions are 
ambiguous. Will the web entrap or shield? At the bottom of the sheet, out¬ 
side the web’s circumference, is a bucolic scene where deer prance and 
graze while a fawn nurses among trees and flowers and birds. 



3 










Object Lesson 


The animals and vegetation are modeled on images found in 
historical Indo-Persian miniature paintings, a tradition in which Sikander 
trained at the National College of Arts in Lahore from 1987 to 1990. 5 
Hunting scenes are a common subject within this practice and were 
understood to allude to broader issues of territorial control and military 
strength, so were a natural source for the artist to turn to when contem¬ 
plating September 11th. The sensitive depiction of deer in miniature 
painting has a special appeal for Sikander, especially in regard to their del¬ 
icate and supple movement. In an exceptional Indian Mughal miniature 
in the RISD Museum’s collection, Shah Shuja Hunting Nilgai, attributed to 
Payag [Fig.3], the grace and vulnerability of the animals is in evidence. 

Birds in particular are rich in Sikander’s use of symbolism. She is 
particularly engaged in the bird in flight and its connection to the imagi¬ 
nation, to Islamic mythology and philosophy, and especially to Sufism. In 
many beliefs, including Islam, birds in flight are equated with the ascen¬ 
sion of the soul to a higher realm. A famous eleventh-centuiy Sufi allegor¬ 
ical tale by Fariduddin Attar, The Conference of Birds, narrates the meeting 
of a large group of birds who want to find their king. With the aid of the 
hoopoe bird, the group is guided to the mythical Simurgh, hiding in the 
mountain Kaf. The thirty birds that complete the arduous journey there 
find they are in fact Simurgh (in Persian, the word translates as “thirty 
birds”), or the divinity within. 6 This type of spiritual journey is a recurrent 
theme in Sikander’s work, especially in reference to flight as a metaphor 
for the creative process. 7 

The flora and fauna scattered throughout the sheet, creating a 
fertile environment, are elements more typically found in the border 
design for a miniature painting, but they play a foundational role in this 
composition. In an earlierwork, Venus’s Wonderland [Fig. 4], Sikander 
worked in a format replicating an album page, with the central image 
surrounded by imagery, including an outer border based on a similar type 
of flora and fauna design she was taught to copy during her studies at the 
National College of Arts in Lahore. 

Sikander’s teacher at the National College of Arts, Bashir Ahmad, 
had revived the practice of Mughal-style miniature painting at the col¬ 
lege, creating a bachelor’s degree program there in 1982. At that time, the 
school’s program was predominantly based on Western 
models of art practice. This was the first program in a 
South Asian academy where students were instructed over 
several years in the history, theory, and techniques of the 
miniature-painting tradition. Sikander learned how to pre¬ 
pare the paper and colors, copy historical miniatures, and 


FIG.3 

Attributed to Payag 
Indian 

Shah Shuja Hunting Nilgai, 
ca.1650-1655 

Opaque watercolor and gold on paper 
16.9 x 26.1 cm. (6 5 /s x 10 'A in.) 

Museum Works of Art Fund 58.068 


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4 

eventually create her own compositions. The field of miniature painting 
grounds her practice today, especially in the centrality of the role of draw¬ 
ing and the patience and discipline required in the execution. An example 
is in her preparation of the wasli paper support used in this piece. 

The artist generally makes the wasli paper for her miniatures 
in batches, layering two or three sheets of dampened cotton-fiber paper 
with a wheat-starch paste and ground copper sulfate as a preservative. 
Using the palm of her hand as a squeegee, she forces the paste through 
the paper and eliminates any excess paste and air bubbles in the lami¬ 
nated sheet. Taped to a board, the sheets dry for two days. They are then 



































Object Lesson 


burnished with a shell on both sides, creating a flat, smooth, and lumi¬ 
nous surface. Lastly, Sikander stains the paper with several applications 
of tea, controlling this wash of color in an even and continuous flow 
across and down the sheet. 8 

Once the sheet for this work was meticulously prepared, she 
began by transferring a flora and fauna composition she had previously 
drawn. In traditional miniature work, it was common to transfer designs 
through papers that had been pricked along the line work, so that a diy 
pigment could be pounced through the holes as a guide for drawing the 
work. In Web, Sikander selectively drew over some printed components, 
making all the line work appear to be applied by hand. Only magnified 
viewing makes these distinctions clear [Fig. 5]. All the linear work in this 
drawing, aside from the flora and fauna, was drawn freehand by Sikander. 

These refined and detailed ink lines were not made with a pen, 
as might be expected, but with a brush. Careful looking reveals Sikander’s 
remarkable control of her line work. The strokes are steady, continuous, 
and precise, rarely providing evidence of wavering or misstep. Sikander’s 
spare additions of opaque watercolor evoke the sense that Web is in a 
state of evolution. 

From the beginning of her studies in Lahore, Sikander was inter¬ 
ested in the miniature tradition’s potential for subversion. Before her, 
no one had explored its possibilities as a radical art form. “At that time, 
miniature painting was a completely untapped field for contemporary art. 


FIG. 4 

Shahzia Sikander 
American and Pakistani, b.1969 
Venus’s Wonderland, 1995-1997 
Vegetable color, dry pigment, 
watercolor, and tea on wasli paper 
30.48 x 27.31 cm. (12 x 10 % in.) 

Collection Rachel and Jean-Pierre Lehmann, 
New York 

©Shahzia Sikander 
Courtesy the artist 

FIG. 5 

Shahzia Sikander 

American and Pakistani, b.1969 

(RISD MFA1995, Painting/Printmaking) 

Web (detail), 2002 

Ink, opaque watercolor, graphite, and tea 
on wasli paper 

Sheet: 22.7 x 18.9 cm. (8 15 /ie x 7 7 /ie in.) 

Paula and Leonard Granoff Fund 2003.46 
©Shahzia Sikander 



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FIG. 6 

Shahzia Sikander 

American and Pakistani, b.1969 

The Scroll, 1989-1990 

Vegetable color, dry pigment, watercolor, 

and tea on bark and paper 

50.5 x 179.6 cm. (19 % * 70 5 /s in.) 

© Shahzia Sikander 
Courtesy the artist 


I chose the medium when it was widely considered craft, with no room 
allowed for creative expression, because I perceived a frontier.” 9 As 
curator Valerie Fletcher has previously noted, the fact that the genre was 
precolonial, representational, and Islamic made Sikander’s use of it a 
political gesture in itself. 10 Before Sikander completed her studies, she 
demonstrated the practice’s rich capacity for investigation by introducing 
personal and contemporaiy subject matter, expanded scale, and cine¬ 
matic imagery, receiving high praise and recognition for leading the way 
in a pursuit of the miniature tradition within the contemporary art dis¬ 
course [Fig. 6]. 11 

Like Sikander’s Lahore thesis work, Web includes subject matter 
referencing the present day, such as the industrial towers and fighter 
jets. Vertical structures and airplanes, in any form, still call to mind the 
terrorist hijacking of American passenger airlines to destroy New York’s 
World Trade Center on September 11th, and that was especially so in 
2002, when the drawing was made. Sikander’s structures could be read 
as watchtowers, communication towers, or oil wells. 12 All offer plausible 
readings. Following the passage of the Patriot Act just six weeks after 

September 11th, the access of personal data by the U.S. 
government and government surveillance became of 
increasing concern to U.S. citizens. 

If the towers are read as oil-drilling derricks, the 
imagery recalls the widespread opposition to President 
George W. Bush’s campaign to invade Iraq, claiming 
the Iraqi government was concealing weapons of mass 



6 



































Object Lesson 


destruction (since proved false). Millions across the 
globe protested, citing America’s dependence on 
foreign fuel sources and charging that the veiled goal 
of the Iraq invasion was the American exploitation of 
Iraqi oil fields. In Web , the towers’ meaning becomes 
even more layered by the addition of armorial 
bearings with the towers at the upper right, including 
a crown, shield, and portrait bust [Fig. 7], It is as if 
the communication towers / oil derricks have become 
a part of an armorial bearing, claiming identity 
with the information / petroleum resources as a 
continuation of colonial-era exploitation. Another 
drawing Sikander made at this time, King George [Fig. 
8], is more explicit about her feeling on the subject, 
depicting President Bush suited in armor and 
posed in a victorious stance on top of a map of Iraq. 
Sikander acknowledges that “the political bent in my 
work gained momentum between 2002 and 2004.... 
Several works from this period... are reflections of 
my underlying interest in responding to political and 
cultural shifts.” 13 

Compounding the political ciphers in Web 
is the fact that the only colors used are red, white, and 
blue—a scheme that is seen in many of Sikander’s 
works of this period, some with clearer references to 



7 


FIG. 7 

Shahzia Sikander 
American and Pakistani, b. 1969 
(RISD MFA1995, Painting/Printmaking) 
Web (detail), 2002 

Ink, opaque watercolor, graphite, and tea 
on wasli paper 

Sheet: 22.7 * 18.9 cm. (8 15 /ie * 7 7 /ie in.) 
Paula and Leonard Granoff Fund 2003.46 
©Shahzia Sikander 



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the American flag [Fig. 9]. It is worth noting the red used is closer to a 
blood red than a true red. In the time following September 11th, it was 
difficult to be anywhere in the U.S. without being surrounded by American 
flags. The pervasive flag displays reflected a spirit of solidarity around 
the victims and those who responded to the tragedy, but for some this 
nationalism also unleashed unfounded fears of and distrust for Muslims 
in America. This marked a profound shift from Sikander’s own initial 
reception in the U.S., which she described in the early 1990s as “wonder¬ 
fully porous.” In a March 2016 opinion piece for the Los Angeles Times , she 
discussed continuing ramifications for Muslims in the U.S.: 

Long gone are the days when one could travel on a Pakistani 
passport without raising security alarm and waiting in detention 
rooms. Now, the incendiary anti-Muslim rhetoric spreading in 
certain parts of the U.S. is dangerous and suffocating. It robs all 
of us of our innate human empathy . 14 








Object Lesson 


One of the most dominant elements in Web is the mysterious 
closed form that overlays the left side. It is connected to a series of draw¬ 
ings that Sikander created while she was a graduate student at RISD. 
Looking for a greater rupture in her miniature work, she developed “a 
personal vocabulary, an alphabet of sorts, in which forms could serve 
as stock figures that no longer had to hold onto their original meaning. 

I produced my own visual language.” 15 Much of the new language was 
inspired by the discourse at RISD focusing on feminism, sexuality, and 
identity. The small female figures seen in Venus’s Wonderland [Fig. 4] 
are taken from this new vocabulary. Layered onto a scene she copied 
from a Pakistani historical miniature that portrays an Indian fable, they 
personalize and complicate the image. She developed these forms, 
primarily referencing the body, as quick, loose, gestural drawings in 
opposition to the exacting and detailed work of the miniature. 

In 2001, Sikander found new inspiration for her personal lexicon 
of forms, which 

emerged from an interest in locating the “life” of a form. Taking 
the standard coffee-table Islamic art book or catalogue as a start¬ 
ing point, I went about dismantling categories of representation 
such as ceramic, metal works, textiles, and the decorative arts in 
order to represent the objects made in these media as imagina¬ 
tive inhabitants full of life . 16 


FIG. 8 

Shahzia Sikander 
American and Pakistani, b.1969 
King George, 2002 
Graphite on paper 
35.6x27.9 cm. (14x11 in.) 
©Shahzia Sikander 
Courtesy the artist 


FIG. 9 

Shahzia Sikander 
American and Pakistani, b.1969 
No Fly Zone, 2002 

Watercolor and dry pigment on wasli paper 
20 x 11 cm. (7%x4 1 / 3 in.) 

©Shahzia Sikander 
Courtesy the artist 


The model for the form in Web is a container or purse that would 
hang from a belt. She drew these images, using a loaded brush, onto thin 
paper which wrinkled and caused the ink to dry with a mottled, organic 
texture. 17 She then reproduced the forms with direct gravure as stand¬ 
alone images in a series of prints and as layers in more complex images, 
such as those in Web and No Fly Zone. In Web, the purse 
seems to intertwine economics with her narrative. 

Another technique incorporated into Web is the 
white wash applied over the printed and drawn ink depic¬ 
tions of flora, which dissolves the imagery into a beautiful 
pattern of small pools. In a similar way that this process 
disintegrates her image, at the upper left edge she has cre¬ 
ated the illusion that the paper this work is drawn on 
is being peeled or torn. These effects serve to amplify a 
recurrent strategy in Sikander’s work around transforma¬ 
tion of imagery by redaction or context, which speaks to 
her broader inquiry into how history is written and rewrit¬ 
ten. The themes of development and destruction that 
persist in this work—in the danger implied by the fighter 


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jets and towers set within the fecund landscape; in the deer being hunted 
and the fawn feeding; in the spider and its web as protector and ensnarer— 
reinforce this investigation. These themes connect, too, to the cycle of life 
and time alluded to in the drawing, seen perhaps most obviously in the 
unexpected juxtaposition of historical and contemporaiy references but 
also in how the news cycle continues to affect how the drawing is read. For 
this viewer, the recent Muslim travel ban, part of the continuing fallout of 
9/11 and the new Trump administration, comes to the fore. 

Time is, of course, also an element of the work’s creation. While 
Web has been analyzed primarily following the chronology of Sikander’s 
development as an artist, it also nearly reflects the chronology of its evolu¬ 
tion, except the web is the final layer. Her work evolves slowly, as Sikander 
states in this essay’s opening quotation, by allowing her 
brush to guide her thoughts and not fearing where it 
takes her. The veiy last elements added to this compo¬ 
sition, and they may have been added somewhat later 
in time according to the artist, were the tiny silhouettes 
oigopi hairstyles—nearly invisible next to the jet at the 
upper left [Fig. 10]—motifs that have become ubiqui¬ 
tous in Sikander’s more recent work. They are derived 
from historical Indian miniatures depicting female 
followers of the young Krishna. This small gesture con¬ 
fronts the historic antagonism between Muslims and 
Hindis, but as shapes they take on meaning according 
to context. They read in many works, as they do here, as 
birds or bats, and the association with flight is wholly 
appropriate. Their inclusion connects this work to 
Sikander’s digital animations in which the gopi hairpieces multiply and 
swarm with a fluidity of transformation and interpretation that is a hall¬ 
mark of her work. 

A web is an ideal metaphor for the multitude of thematic threads 
that are finely woven together in this drawing, especially in the context 
of the word’s broader definition as a complex network. The work encom¬ 
passes the webs of personal identity, cultural influences, political relation¬ 
ships, global economics, international security, and immigration, just to 
name a few—all issues that are an even greater part of our daily conver¬ 
sation now than they were when the work was created. That Sikander can 
wrap all of this into such an exquisite work on such a small scale speaks to 
her remarkable visual and conceptual imagination. 







Object Lesson 


1 "Shahzia Sikander with Sara Christoph," Brooklyn Rail, November 1,2016, http://brooklynrail.org/2016/ll/ 
art/shahzia-sikander-with-sara-christoph. 

2 The author is grateful to the artist for patiently sharing her thoughts on the sources of her imagery and 
her techniques in this work in a telephone conversation on June 28, 2017. The synopsis of the story on the 
spider and the cave is taken from https://www.islamicity.org/6327/history-of-hijrah-migration-for-peace- 
and-justice/. 

3 Shahzia Sikander, "We Need Diverse Influences: Artist Shahzia Sikander on Her Multicultural Past and 
Our Ruture," Los Angeles Times, March 24,2016, http://www.latimes.com/books/la-ca-jc-shahzia-sikander- 
20160327-story.html. 

4 Sikander had received many prestigious exhibition opportunities, including one-person exhibitions at the 
Drawing Center (New York) and the Renaissance Society (Chicago), and inclusion in the 1997 Whitney 
Biennial (New York). 

5 Sikander’s official graduation date is February 16,1992, but her graduation session and last year of study 
was 1989-1990. 

6 Mojdeh Bayat and Mohammad Ali Jamnia, Tales from the Land of the Sufis (Boston and London: 
Shambhala, 2001), 52-56. 

7 A recent example is the print portfolio Portrait of an Artist, published in 2016 by Pace Editions, with its 
reference to the Mi'raj story, the revelatory night journey of the Prophet Muhammad, in both Sikander’s 
images and the accompanying text by Ayad Akhtar. 

8 Sikander stains and burnishes a sheet in the video "Art in the Twenty-First Century, Season 1, September 
21, 2001." https://art21.org/watch/art-in-the-twenty-first-century/sl/shahzia-sikander-in-spirituality- 
segment/. 

9 Hans Ulrich Obrist, "Interview with Shahzia Sikander," in Shahzia Sikander: Apparatus of Power 
(Hong Kong: Asia Society Hong Kong, 2016), 302. 

10 Valerie Fletcher, Directions: Shahzia Sikander. Washington, DC: Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, 
2000. Exhibition brochure. 

11 Her thesis work, The Scroll, started a trend in the miniature department at the National College of Arts. 
Since she presented this work and until very recently thesis projects have been large-scale miniature 
painting, as opposed to small notebook-sized pieces that had been done prior. There was a great deal of 
positive press around her thesis work, and through the 1990s she was seen in Pakistan as leading the way 
in the contemporary exploration of miniature painting. Almost unheard of, following graduation Sikander 
was asked to stay on at the NCA to teach miniature painting, which she did for a year. Her contribution to 
contemporary Pakistani art is regularly omitted. 

12 An email sent April 21, 2003, from the artist to the author refers to them as communication towers, 
although Sikander described them as oil wells in a telephone conversation on June 28, 2017. 

13 Sikander, 'Time as Nemesis to Authority," in Shahzia Sikander: Apparatus of Power, 276. 

14 Sikander, "We Need Diverse Influences." 

15 Sikander, "Time as Nemesis to Authority," 276. 

16 Ibid., 282 and 287. 

17 In this generative process, Sikander created ten or twenty works during a single session using large ink- 
filled brushes on tracing paper from rolls. She appreciated the skin-like nature of the transparent sheets. In 
some of these drawings, she used a black ink with a red tint that gave the appearance of dried blood. 


FIG. 10 

Shahzia Sikander 

American and Pakistani, b.1969 

(RISD MFA1995, Painting/Printmaking) 

Web (detail), 2002 

Ink, opaque watercolor, graphite, and tea on wasli paper 
Sheet: 22.7 * 18.9 cm. (8 16 /ie * 7 7 /ie in.) 

Paula and Leonard Granoff Fund 2003.46 
©Shahzia Sikander 


Manual Fall 2017 


Out of Line 


HowTo 

Draw Conceptually: 

Documents for Sol Lewitt Wall Drawing 328 



HowTo 


SUSANNA SINGER 


To Whom It May Concern: 73 

Enclosed, please find die Certificate and Diagram for your Sol LeWitt 
Wall Drawing. 

These documents are the signature for the Wall Drawing and must accompany 
die Wall Drawing if it is sold or otherwise transferred. 

Please keep these documents in a safe place. If they are lost or stolen, they 
cannot be replaced. 

Please contact me if you have any questions or need more information. 

Sincerely, 

Susanna E. Singer 

CD 


5S Hlveiside Drivs Sew York Ciiy 18824 Telepiiass: 212 724 5883 Fas: 212 72! 2822 8-Diteaana5a@aiil.sosi 


2017 The LeWitt Estate / Artist Rights Society CARS), New York 


Issue 






Manual Fall 2017 


Out of Line 


CERTIFICATE 


This is to certify that the Sol LeWitt wall drawing 
328 

number— _evidenced by this certificate is authentic. 


On a black wall, a white circle within which 
are white vertical parallel lines, and a white 
parallelogram within which are white horizontal 
parallel lines. The vertical lines within the 
circle do not enter the parallelogram, and the 
horizontal lines within the parallelogram do not 
enter the circle. 

White crayon, black wall 

First Installation: Galerie Watari, 

Tokyo, Japan. 

February, 1980 


This certification is the signature for the wall drawing and must 
accompany the wall drawing if it is sold or otherwise transferred. 


Certified by 


Copyright Sol LeWitt. 



Sol LeWitt 














HowTo 


DIAGRAM 



On a black wall, a white circle within which are white vertical parallel 
lines, and a parallelogram within which are white horizontal parallel 
lines. The vertical lines within the circle do not enter the parallelogram 
and the horizontal lines within the parallelogram do not enter the circle. 


This is a diagram for the Sol Le Witt wall drawing number . It should 

accompany the certificate if the wall drawing is sold or otherwise transferred 
but is not a certificate or a drawing. 


Issue 

















































































Manual Fall 2017 


Out of Line 


Portfolio 


CD 

Edward Ruscha 
American, b. 1937 
Serious Injury, 1972 
Gunpowder on paper 

29.4 x 74 cm. (11 9 /ie * 29% in.) 

Museum purchase, Gift of the 
Museum Associates 75.063 
© Ed Ruscha 

( 2 ) 

Lily Van der Stokker 
Dutch, b. 1954 
I Love You, 1990 
Magic marker on paper 
41.9 x 29.8 cm. (16% x 11 % in.) 

Gift of Hudson 2009.52.1 
Courtesy of the artist 

(3) 

Henri Matisse 

French, 1869-1954 

Untitled (.Study for Blue Nudej, 1951 

Pen and ink on paper 

27 x 21 cm. (10% x 8 5 /i6 in.) 

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Barnet Fain 83.164 
© 2017 Succession H. Matisse / 

Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York 

(4) 

Norman Rockwell 
American, 1894-1978 
I Meet the Body Beautiful, for the book 
My Adventures as an Illustrator, 1960 
Graphite on tracing paper 
17.5x17.8 cm. (6% x 7 in.) 

Gift of John Davis Hatch 1991.096.20 
Printed by permission of the Norman Rockwell 
Family Agency © 1960 the Norman Rockwell 
Family Entities 

(5) 

Cornelis van Poelenburgh 
Dutch, ca. 1593-1667 
Orpheus, n.d. 

Pen and ink and wash on paper 
9.5 x 14.9 cm. (3% x 5% in.) 

Gift of Mrs. Gustav Radeke 20.523 

( 6 ) 

El Lissitzky 
Russian, 1890-1941 
Proun, 1923 

Collage, gouache, and pen and ink on board 
64.6 x 49.7 cm. (25% x 19% in.) 

Museum Appropriation Fund 40.006 
© Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York 


(7) 

Jackson Pollock 
American, 1912-1956 
Untitled, 1939-1940 
Pencil on paper 
35.6 x 27.9 cm. (14 x 11 in.) 

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Erwin Strasmich 
in memory of Ida Malloy 1991.023 
© 2017 The Pollack-Krasner Foundation / 
Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York 

( 8 ) 

William Montella 
American, 1917-1990 
Untitled, 1938 
Graphite on paper 
21.3x27.9 cm. (8%xTI in.) 

Gift of Billy Montella Jr. and Sandra Montella 
Sullivan in loving memory of William Sr. and 
Emma Montella 2014.42.7 
© William Montella 

(9) 

Utagawa Hiroshige 

Japanese, 1797-1858 

Preliminary Drawings for Three Tanzaku 

prints, 1830s-1840s 

Ink on paper, mounted on paper 

Backing sheet: 30.5 x 25.4 cm. (12 x 10 in.) 

Elizabeth T. and Dorothy N. Casey Fund 

2000.83 

( 10 ) 

Pat Steir 

American, b. 1938 
The Austria Group. No. 2, 1991 
Graphite, ink, tempera, and watercolor 
pencil on paper 

153.7 x 152.4 cm. (60% x 60 in.) 

Purchased with funds from the Paula and 
Leonard Granoff Fund and Donald Stanon 
2009.28 
© Pat Steir 

( 11 ) 

Howardena Pindell 
American, b. 1943 
Space Frame, 1968 
Graphite on graph paper 

44.5 x 55.9 cm. (17% x 22 in.) 

Georgianna Sayles Aldrich Fund 2004.56 
© Howardena Pindell 

( 12 ) 

Ewan Gibbs 

English, b. 1973 

New York, 2008 

Graphite on paper 

Image: 29.7 x 21 cm. (11% x 8% in.) 

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Robert D. Mann in honor 
of Judith Tannenbaum 2013.51.11 
© Ewan Gibbs 


(back cover) 

French 

Nose (detail), late 19th century 

Chalk on paper 

28.6 x 19.2 cm. (11 % x 7 % in.) 

Gift from the Collection of Mr. and 
Mrs. Barnet Fain 2001.80.80 



(inside cover) 

Edouard Leon Louis Edy-Legrand 
French, 1892-1970 
Battle Scene (detail), ca. 1930 
Pencil and pen and ink on paper 
26.2 x 19.1 cm. (10% x 7 % in.) 

Gift of the Fazzano Brothers 84.198.1210 
© 2017 Artist Rights Society (ARS), 

New York / ADAGP, Paris